Fight erupts in Britain over anti-gay Section 28

 

World National
©World National / Roger-Luc Chayer

Fight erupts in Britain over anti-gay Section 28

SUMMARY: A fight has broken out between teachers and « family values » campaigners in England over claims that a new professional code of conduct for teachers would side-step Section 28, the controversial British law prohibiting the discussion of homosexuality in schools.

A fight has broken out between teachers and « family values » campaigners in England over claims that a new professional code of conduct for teachers would side-step Section 28, the controversial British law prohibiting the discussion of homosexuality in schools.

The Christian Institute, an evangelical lobby group, has claimed that an equal opportunities clause in the teachers’ code of conduct would force the teaching of gay rights in English schools.

However the General Teaching Council (GTC), which is drawing up the code, rebuffed the claims and argued that the code is being put together with the support of teachers.

The clause itself states: « Teachers recognize diversity and work to ensure the rights of individuals to develop. They fully respect differences of gender, marital status, religion, color, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and disability. Teacher professionalism involves challenging prejudice and stereotypes to ensure equality of opportunity. »

Colin Hart, director of the Newcastle-upon-Tyne-based Christian Institute, believes the statement will lead to teachers opposed to homosexuality being forced to respect and promote gay equality.

« The GTC is well intentioned. They may not want to side-step Section 28 but that is precisely what will happen, » Hart said.

« They seem to be unaware how their code will be used in practice. If this code is enforced, any teacher who believes that homosexuality is wrong will fear for their job. How will Christian teachers be able to work in state schools? »

The Christian Institute’s attack on the proposed code won support from Baroness Janet Young, a prominent opponent of GLBT activists, and Julian Brazier, a member of parliament from Canterbury.

« It is a spin doctors’ way of getting rid of Section 28, and it is contrary to what the overwhelming majority of parents want, » Baroness Young said.

Brazier called the code « a McCarthyite attempt to frighten teachers who think that there are moral objections to homosexual practice. »

Carol Adams, the GTC’s director, countered, « We’re talking about a statement of professional values of teachers, not a set of instructions telling people what to do. We’re currently consulting teachers on the code and welcome all responses. »

« The code reflects the reality of how teachers work hard to ensure tolerance and support for all children so that every pupil in their care gets the education they deserve. Most parents and teachers would see this as fair and sensible, » Adams added.

The proposed code of conduct is under consultation until July 20 and was drawn up with advice and support from teachers across the country. The General Teaching Council itself is made up of elected teachers, union officials and government appointed representatives.

Adams also stressed that the code will not be a « checklist » to assess teachers with.

« It provides a context for the Council’s advisory and regulatory work. Teachers are not required to sign the code, » she added.


If you’d like to know more, you can find stories related to Fight erupts in Britain over anti-gay Section 28.